South Sudan

Improving public health surveillance and response in South Sudan

18 September 2021

Juba, 18 September 2021– Timely information and appropriate response are vital for preventing and effective control of public health events, outbreaks, and pandemics. As a core requirement of the international health regulations (IHR (2005), countries continue to invest in building and maintaining robust surveillance systems to enable timely detection and public health response for enhanced national and international public health security.

The South Sudan Ministry of Health, with support from WHO and partners has since 2006 invested in the implementation of integrated disease surveillance and response (IDSR) strategy to control and prevent priority diseases and attain the other IHR (2005) core capacity requirements.

As part of these efforts, the Ministry of Health supported by WHO and partners has completed a 5-day training of trainer’s workshop that trained a pool of 40 national master trainers on the updated IDSR third edition technical guidelines and training materials. The master trainers will then facilitate the cascade rollout of the third edition IDSR to the county level. The trainings are expected to enhance the implementation of IDSR core functions at the community, health facility, county, state, and national level.

“Late and incomplete reporting limits the amount of actionable public health data available to the Ministry of Health”, said Dr John Rumunu, Director General for Preventive Health Services at the Ministry of Health. “The rollout of the IDSR Third Edition to the counties will enable health facilities and counties to collect data and report for identifying public health events and facilitate required follow up by the Ministry of Health to easily analyze which health facilities are reporting and identify public health events and facilities requiring follow-up”.

South Sudan still suffers from regular outbreaks of infectious disease like measles, water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and Hepatitis E virus, and vector borne diseases like malaria and yellow fever. The IDSR has provided a framework for detecting, investigating, and responding to these outbreaks using the IDSR resources available at community, health facility, county, state, and national level.

“Identifying new public health events in real-time facilitates prompt investigations and rapid containment to prevent widespread epidemics, pandemics, and the associated cases and deaths in affected areas and populations”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, the WHO Representative for South Sudan. “Thanks to the collaboration and support from the European Union Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Though this collaboration, WHO has been supporting the Ministry of Health to strengthen the implementation of IDSR in South Sudan”

South Sudan’s Ministry of Health has been implementing the IDSR strategy since 2006. The strategy focuses on strengthening surveillance, laboratory, and response capacities at the county to ensure priority diseases are listed and monitored, detected, reported, mitigated, or prepared for, investigated, and responded to.

As part of the strategy rollout, IDSR focal points have been established in the Epidemic Preparedness and Response (EPR) department in the National Ministry of health and in each of the 10 states and three Administrative Areas, 80 counties, and in select high risk communities where the Boma Health workers have been appointed.

Notes to editors:
Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) is a strategy adopted by WHO African Region member states for implementing comprehensive public health surveillance and response systems for priority diseases, conditions and events at all levels of health systems in African countries. The strategy aims to integrate multiple surveillance systems, and link surveillance and laboratory data to guide public health decisions with the county as the center of implementation. The WHO member states in the African Region are currently using the IDSR framework to attain the core capacity requirements for the IHR (2005).

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